Basildon-based B2B dealer Sprint has been one of the best players in the dealer game for a long time. It built up its brand and network rapport and accomplished the feat of holding a hand of five network cards – something that high street giants Carphone Warehouse once upon a time could not boast and that some major distributors still can’t boast.
A strong name like Sprint extending its banner across the dealer world, inviting capable participants to take part, could be what this ailing part of the industry needs.
If solidarity among dealers, like what former distie veteran Frank Masson is saying is what’s needed (see Speaker’s Corner, page 28 in this issue of Mobile News); then short of the overnight creation of a dealer activist group, Sprint’s franchise programme could go some way towards offering strength, unity and a model for success to the dealer channel.
What more could a dealer want besides a strong brand, ongoing revenue, and a charismatic leader like Sprint MD Paul Leonard who appears to be tackling the recession in a strategic way?
Franchise programmes are not unique; certainly Fonehouse and JAG have tried their hand at it in the consumer space, and while JAG was plagued by VAT issues and no doubt some form of recession backlash, Fonehouse has had a degree of success in extending a trusted consumer brand to dealers who perhaps were struggling.
Dealers have long complained that the networks who once sought their favour have slowly been turning against them over the past few years.
The networks admit that SME business – Sprint’s heartland – is best left to dealer experts, although they too are looking to grow market share in this sector.
What better way to come up against the almighty networks than in the form of a robust franchise network?
Sprint has already developed a core B2B client base and established itself as a specialist in this field. With its move into services through its in-house created SatNav proposition, it is positioning itself (intentional pun) as more than just a standard dealer, but a business who can deliver solutions – achieving the highly thrown around term of ‘adding value’ for its customer base.
As Sprint generates scale and the appropriate infrastructure, no doubt it will generate further resources to inject into its content and services strategy and provide further tools to deploy among its franchise partners. Perhaps Sprint can be one of the figureheads that proves Frank Masson wrong.